“Stranger Things 2” Episode 4 Recap

In which we review, through the eyes of a proud Hoosier, the Indiana-set Netflix series.
There’s not a whole lot of Indiana in the fourth episode of Stranger Things—the sequel—aside from a general small-town milieu, a sunset with oranges and pinks the likes of which I never saw in 18 years living on the East Coast, and basketball. Ah, hoops, that most recognizable staple of every phase of life in the Hoosier state. But did I miss the part where sanctioned school gym classes involved games of shirts and skins? Maybe that changed by the time my ’90s high school days where everyone would have played in flannel and Doc Martens if allowed. Also, Billy Cougar Mellencamp is so extra. What is he doing here?

Mysterious happenings are ramping up in old Hawkins, however. The boys and Joyce find Will in a trance on the football field, where, unbeknownst to them he’s in the grasp of a much creepier version of the Lost smoke monster. Once he snaps out of it, he confides in his mom—and later Mike—about what’s been going on in his semi-possessed head, culminating with the series’ scariest line: “No, he likes it cold.”

Before Hopper heads over to Joyce’s to do art therapy with Will, he and Eleven have it out, like, big time. Although The Breakfast Club won’t come out until 1985, Hopp gives us a really great impersonation of Principal Richard “Dick” Vernon grounding his surrogate daughter from Eggos and TV for “one week, okay two weeks, A MONTH!” Objects are soon flying around the cabin, natch.

Meanwhile, in a very teen Alias move, Nancy and Jonathan’s call to Barb’s parents is revealed to be a bit of a ruse on their part to lure some creepy lab agents. It works, and soon enough they’re at the lab with Dr. Paul Reiser, where he’s warning them about this technology falling into the hands of the Russians and admitting guilt over Barb’s death. Good thing, Nancy Drew has her giant tape recorder handy to capture it all.

Will’s manic drawings of the tentacle smoke monster on 47,098 pieces of paper are now plastered all over Joyce’s walls like the Christmas lights from last season. Hopper deduces that they’re vines and goes off to dig a hole in the moldy pumpkin patch where no good things will ever happen. Oy, Hopper.

Oh, and Dart? Yeah, he’s growing and murdered Dustin’s mom’s cat. BECAUSE OF COURSE HE DID! GOD, DUSTIN!